If there’s one thing I can’t imagine actually buying a formal curriculum for, it’s art. Whether we’re talking about appreciation or creating art, you probably can’t talk me into setting aside part of our school day for art on a regular basis. I just don’t see it as needing that type of attention.
But that’s not to say that we don’t give art a lot of attention! We love art and it’s a big part of our larger homeschooling in the form of fun classes, field trips and kid-initiated art on their own time. Plus, we incorporate a lot of art into our history study. So here are some of our favorite resources for art.
All the Museums!
Okay, I know we’re super lucky to live in D.C. with the Smithsonians and the National Gallery, not to mention the private museums like the Kreeger and the Phillips Collection. We like them all, but we do have favorites. For one, while I often have mixed feelings about what’s showing, the kids adore the Hirshhorn’s often strange, contemporary exhibits. They discovered this showing there when they were about 3 years old and liked it so much we had to buy the video. We also adore the Smithsonian American Art Museum, especially when they have a family day. There’s also the Luce Center there, with their great scavenger hunts. Finally, if you live in the area and have kids age 4-7 but haven’t ever been to Stories in Art at the National Gallery, then you really are missing out on something.
The Online Fun
Mushroom and BalletBoy have a few websites they’ve enjoyed for art. Probably top of the list is the game Waltee’s Quest from the excellent Baltimore Art Museum, The Walters. It’s an online scavenger hunt where you have to search for certain items to save the museum during a freak lightning storm… or something. It’s very detective and very well done, with sleek graphics. Also amazing is the National Gallery’s online site, NGAKids, which is filled with wonderful collage applications that you can make and print. One more site we’ve seen and liked includes Getty Games, from the LA Museum The Getty. And, while we haven’t used it yet, I’m sure that Google’s new art project, which has gotten a lot of buzz recently, will get used here at some point in the near future.
The Daily Dose
We have a couple of things to get our daily dose of art. One is the book A Year in Art, which has activities and pictures for every day. We also have really enjoyed The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s art a day calendar. I especially like the variety in the pieces of art in that one.
We have a pile of drawing books, but there are a couple favorites. First of all, the Usborne Art Ideas book is a little volume with lots of good ideas. I like how the book shows several different styles and media. Sticking with Usborne, the Usborne Big Book of Things to Draw is even better. This is a large format book with different types of methods and media, but all in drawing. Finally, we have really enjoyed the Doodles at Lunch book. This book shows simple, step by step ways for kids to draw little cartoon doodles. Mushroom really likes their method and enjoys sitting and copying them. It has really improved his own art as well, which I can see from how much more detailed his drawings are getting, even if slowly. There are other books that I’ve used to get ideas for the kids, but art books the kids can enjoy on their own has been a relatively new and exciting pleasure around here.
Resources on Hand
Of course, probably the most important thing we do is keep the art supplies handy. The kids can get to all of these at a moment’s notice:
- markers, crayons, colored pencils or oil pastels
- glue sticks or glue
- colored masking tape, colored Duck tape or sticky tape
- different kinds of paper
- Prang watercolors or lots of washable paints and brushes
- modeling clay